Curiouser and curiouser… why would anyone back this Thanet Parkway plan?

Early impressions of a Thanet Parkway station

The case for a Thanet Parkway railway station near Ramsgate seems ever weaker.
Details have been published of a damning government rejection of Kent County Council’s bid to win funding for the project.
KCC had put in a planning application for a site off Hengist Way, close to the Ramsgate-Ashford railway line, with the intention that a new station would open in 2021.
The project had been costed at £11 million, but local media outlets have reported that this figure has almost doubled.
KCC’s application for an £8.7 million grant was rejected last year by the Department for Transport, but a statement secured by Broadstairs man Ian Driver might make some wonder why such a project is even being considered.
“The panel considered that the proposal was not yet developed enough to support at this time as the project was still only at the GRIP [Guide to Rail Investment Process] stage one,” says the DfT statement.
“There were also concerns that the project would require extensive infrastructure work to allow the service to operate as planned, that no funding had been identified to cover the additional cost of this extensive infrastructure work, and that the new station would have a detrimental impact on the existing timetable.”
And the positives?
In truth, none seem immediately apparent, at least as far as the DfT is concerned.
“In particular, the panel was concerned that accommodating an additional stop at Thanet Parkway would add two minutes to the journey on the line between Ashford and Ramsgate,” says the statement.
“This means that Ramsgate and Margate would benefit from net improvements of only one minute, rather than three minutes as planned in the current journey time improvement scheme.
“In addition, the panel noted that building a new station would require Network Rail to redevelop a nearby level crossing, but that there were no proposals in the business case on how to cover the costs of this.”
Despite such a crushing critique of the project, KCC reportedly still plans to push ahead with its parkway plans.
These stretch back some years. In December 2010, the county council unveiled its Growth without Gridlock strategy, leader Paul Carter saying:
“A Thanet Parkway station would support economic growth in Thanet and accelerate development of Kent International Airport at Manston, while improved line speeds between Ashford and Ramsgate would benefit all local rail users.
“With an estimated 1,000 new jobs generated per million new air passengers, these improvements would help create 6,000 jobs by 2033.”
The uncertain status of the airport – the development of which was supported financially by KCC before it changed tack and backed Stone Hill Park Ltd’s plans for 4,000 homes at Manston – together with the fact that, far from improving line speeds between Ashford and Ramsgate, a Thanet Parkway station would in fact increase them makes Cllr Carter’s trumpeting of the project seem puzzling.
And that’s before we even consider those, at best dubious, job figures…
Thanet CPRE chairman David Morrish has already given his opinion on the idea.
“We believe that a decision on the parkway station shouldn’t be made until the situation at the Manston airport site is clarified. It was, after all, initially proposed that a parkway station would serve an expanded airport.
“There are widespread fears that it would result in the closing of nearby Minster station, while the idea of encouraging people to travel across Thanet to a new station rather than using their existing stations of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate – with all the issues of traffic congestion that would entail – is bizarre.
“There needs to be a full study on the impact on local transport, which is likely to suffer as a result of this, while are we sure there is enough capacity on the trains to take extra people to London, as is intended?
“Further, we thought that the protection of our farmland was moving up the agenda in the light of the great changes that lie ahead. This station would of course result in a substantial loss of high-quality farmland.”

For more on this story, see here

Friday, August 31, 2018

County council puts in planning application for Thanet Parkway station

Early impressions of a Thanet Parkway station

Thanet CPRE has given a cool response to news that the county council has put in a planning application for a Thanet Parkway station near Ramsgate.
It is planned for a site off Hengist Way, close to the Ramsgate-Ashford railway line, and intended to open in 2021.
An initial application had been expected last year, but amendments to junction design and pedestrian and cycle access delayed it.
The project had been costed at £11 million, but this figure, The Isle of Thanet News reports, has almost doubled according to new estimates.
The plan is to cut journey times between Ramsgate and London Stratford International station to about an hour, a reduction of some 15 minutes on the current shortest time between the town and the capital.
A Kent County Council spokesman is reported as saying: “An application for the proposed Thanet Parkway station was submitted last week.
“It will go through a period of validation and, once this is completed, people will be able to view and comment on the Kent.gov.uk planning site.
“Once validated, we will also notify all residents who requested updates on the project at the public consultation held last year.
“All residents affected by or in the immediate vicinity of the proposals will be contacted as part of the planning process as a matter of course.”
However, Thanet CPRE chairman David Morrish was less than impressed by the plan.
“We believe that a decision on the parkway station shouldn’t be made until the situation at the Manston airport site is clarified. It was, after all, initially proposed that a parkway station would serve an expanded airport.
“There are widespread fears that it would result in the closing of nearby Minster station, while the idea of encouraging people to travel across Thanet to a new station rather than using their existing stations of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate – with all the issues of traffic congestion that would entail – is bizarre.
“There needs to be a full study on the impact on local transport, which is likely to suffer as a result of this, while are we sure there is enough capacity on the trains to take extra people to London, as is intended?
“Further, we thought that the protection of our farmland was moving up the agenda in the light of the great changes that lie ahead. This station would of course result in a substantial loss of high-quality farmland.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Operation Stack: the CPRE Kent view and the chance for you to have a say

Operation Stack in summer 2015, when the M20 was effectively turned into a lorry park for more than 30 days

A fresh round of consultation opens today (Monday, June 11) on tackling the congestion caused by freight traffic held up when trying to cross the English Channel.
Or, in other words, what can we all do about Operation Stack?
CPRE Kent has made regular contributions to the debate on Stack (the process used by police and the Port of Dover to park lorries on the M20 when ferry or Eurotunnel services are disrupted by industrial action or bad weather; the organisation’s view is summed up by director Dr Hilary Newport:
“We are pleased that the flawed plan for a single huge lorry park – the size of Disneyland – just off junction 11 of the M20 were dropped.
“We, along with the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, did not believe that this could be a viable solution to keeping the M20 flowing freely, and there is no doubt that it would have been a huge blight on Kent’s countryside.”
Some two years ago, when there was also a round of public consultation, Dr Newport said: “We do not think that a single huge lorry park, which may only be called into use for a few days – if at all – in any year is the answer.
“A better solution would offer real resilience to the logistics industry now and into the future and help not just Kent but the whole country cope with disruption, strikes or emergency, such as extreme weather, fire or security threats.”
Other problems that need addressing include roadside parking of HGVs with the associated litter and noise; noise and air pollution caused by engines running in slow-moving traffic jams or when stationary to keep refrigeration units running; and disproportionate wear and tear on Kent’s roads.
CPRE Kent contends that instead of the expensive and damaging construction of a single lorry park, investment should be made to:

  • Support a network of dispersed, serviced truck stops that operate on a commercial basis and have some degree of overflow capacity in the event of disruption to Channel crossings. Many shippers prohibit trucks stopping within 120 kilometres of Calais. Similar measures should be employed to hold vehicles outside the Channel Corridor until called forward.
  • Incentivise the use of alternative ports of entry and exit (such as Newhaven, Ramsgate, Sheerness, Dartford, Portsmouth and Purfleet), as well as modal shift away from road-based freight – this would also have the additional benefit of reducing reliance on the Dartford crossings.
  • Incentivise shippers to return to unaccompanied trailer operations across the Channel, which would also boost UK employment of HGV drivers and reduce emissions.
  • Work with the logistics industry, fleet operators and drivers to implement ‘smart queuing’ – smartphones, GPS and communications technology should remove the need for drivers to be nearest the front of any physical queue in Kent when they could be called forward from dispersed locations further afield and guaranteed timely passage across the Channel.
  • Implement ‘quick wins’ – CPRE Kent supports expansion of the existing Stop24 truck facility south of the M20 at junction 11; this could quickly provide a partial solution.

Dr Newport said: “With modern technology and sophisticated international business operations, we are sure there is a better solution than allowing all the lorries to build up in Kent with no other way of reaching Europe than the Dover/Folkestone to Calais crossings.”

  • To read CPRE Kent’s full position paper, click here
  • If you would like to contribute to the consultation, click here

Infrastructure consultation: CPRE gives its views

What will infrastructure development do to Kent? (pic SOS Kent)

“A distributed network of consolidation hubs offers a very different vision of modernity to the vast Operation Stack lorry park currently proposed to service channel freight at the foot of the Kent Downs AONB.
“The development of smaller consolidation hubs should not be seen as an alternative to the use of rail for transporting freight.
“Globally, important trading partners are now making increasing use of rail, with China launching direct rail freight services to Europe and France now using scanning equipment that can more easily identify stowaways on freight entering the Channel Tunnel, thus alleviating security concerns.”
We feature the above passage as a Kent hook to pull you into CPRE’s response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) interim consultation on a National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA).
At almost 6,700 words, the document might need a couple of sittings, but it includes plenty to give food us for thought.
The consultation, entitled Congestion, Capacity and Carbon, spanned many issues, with CPRE electing to focus its response on 10 questions, ranging from Brexit to water policy, autonomous vehicles and land capture.
CPRE will be consulting with the commission further before publication of the final NIA this year.
You can read our response to the interim consultation here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Concern over potential cuts to train services

CPRE Kent’s Tunbridge Wells committee has raised fears about cuts in train services for villages in the consultation on the South Eastern rail franchise.

One of the proposals is to reduce the frequency of trains on “less well used stations” which we believe could include Pluckley, Headcorn, Staplehurst, Marden, Paddock Wood, High Brooms and Hildenborough. It is well hidden under the heading “to speed up longer distance journeys” on page 21 of the consultation.

Arriving at Headcorn, photo Joshua Brown

Arriving at Headcorn, photo Joshua Brown

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said: “To cut or add uncertainty about rail services for villages where development is being deliberately focused because of the stations is madness. It will lead to more land banking, more unbuilt permissions and more 5 year housing land supply failures. Plus, there will be uncertainty and unfair changes for the communities already living close to and relying on these stations. Residents of villages that have a rail station must have confidence in the service.”

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Staplehurst station by Liz Poycock

Arriving at Pluckley, photo Joshua Brown

Arriving at Pluckley, photo Joshua Brown

Read our consultation response here.

May 22nd 2017

 

 


Disappointment at Thames crossing announcement

CPRE Kent has said it is disappointed at the Government’s decision to press ahead with a hugely damaging new Thames crossing east of Gravesend.

Artist's impression of the bored tunnels

Artist’s impression of the bored tunnels

“This will devastate the countryside and the environment and will not solve the terrible congestion problem at Dartford,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport.

“We have long argued that simply building new roads does not result in less traffic – in fact it often has the opposite effect.”

Dartford crossing, photo: Highways England

Dartford crossing, photo: Highways England

A CPRE report out only last month (Monday 20th March), following the largest ever independent review of completed road schemes in England, reveals that road-building is failing to provide the congestion relief and economic boost promised, while devastating the environment. (1)

We believe that spending up to £3 billion on a new crossing is the wrong answer. It has instead called for a wider, more resilient solution, including investment in ports north of the Thames to disperse the cross-channel movement of freight. We need a sustainable transport strategy.

The option for the new crossing chosen, two bored tunnels east of Gravesend, will destroy ancient woodland, destroy important wildlife habitats which are home to protected species and destroy productive farmland, needed to feed our growing population. It will ruin the beautiful landscapes and panoramic views which make Gravesham so special. And it will have a devastating impact on Shorne Country Park, one of the area’s most important educational, environmental and recreational assets, used by so many people, including horse riders, walkers, cyclists, runners and families or those who just seek the tranquillity and peace so vital to our busy http://tramadolfeedback.com lives.

Shorne Woods, photo KCC

Shorne Woods, photo KCC

shorne-wood, Visit kent

Shorne Wood, photo Visit Kent

The crossing itself will not cause all the damage. It is the approach road and the new transport corridor it will create that will be so environmentally damaging. This option will mean the loss of all the open land between Gravesham and Medway changing the character of Gravesham for ever.

A major justification of the need for the new crossing is the volume of road freight traffic – up 80% in the last 20 years to over 3.7 million trucks per year travelling through the M20 ‘Channel corridor’ in Kent along the foot of the Kent Downs AONB. 60% of all UK freight travels on HGVs via the channel crossings: most of this is travelling to or from places north of the Thames, some of it even crosses at Dover to travel on to Scotland or even Ireland. Clearly this overdependence needs to be addressed. The huge volume of freight traffic also significantly affects air quality, particularly in Dartford and Dover.

We want other options considered – as well as diverting more freight to alternative ports, there should be more use of rail for freight, the use of smart technology to manage freight through our motorway networks, measures to promote cycling and walking for local journeys and better public transport.

Meanwhile, we continue to argue that any new housebuilding should be sited in sustainable locations, close to employment and services and with public transport links – this would also help regenerate our urban centres. Too many developments are being built in greenfield locations only accessible by car.

(1) http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/roads/item/4543-the-end-of-the-road-challenging-the-road-building-consensus

12th April 2017


The end of the road?

CPRE Kent  has long argued that increased road building in fact leads to increased traffic, does not reduce journey times and does not bring the promised economic growth to areas. Plus it can destroy beautiful areas of countryside.

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Traffic by Jon Coller

New research published by CPRE today (March 20th) reveals that road-building is failing to provide the congestion relief and economic boost promised, while devastating the environment [1].

No wonder we are so concerned at the wisdom of potentially spending £3billion on a new Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend which would have a terrible economic impact and not solve the problem of congestion at the Dartford crossings.

The research, the largest ever independent review of completed road schemes in England, arrives as Highways England starts consulting on which road schemes will receive funding, set to triple to £3 billion a year by 2020 [2].

Drawing on the research, CPRE’s report The end of the road? directly challenges government claims that ‘the economic gains from road investment are beyond doubt’ [3]; that road-building will lead to ‘mile a minute’ journeys; and that the impact on the environment will be limited ‘as far as possible’ [4]. The report shows how road building over the past two decades has repeatedly failed to live up to similar aims. Continue reading

Thanet Parkway station consultation

We have submitted our comments on the Thanet Parkway new station consultation.

Thanet-Parkway-consultation-banner

These include the impact on the countryside: “It’s a jarring urban intrusion in an otherwise largely rural landscape, and the station’s proximity to St Augustine’s Cross will significantly erode the tranquillity of its setting.”

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St Augustine’s Cross, photo: shirokazan

We also fear there will be more car journeys to reach the station:

“The station as originally envisaged was intended to serve Manston Airport, and therefore to reduce the need for passengers to and from the airport to travel by car. Under the current proposals, this station will be a significant generator of additional car journeys as it encourages out-commuting.”

Plus there is not a good enough alternative way of getting to the station:

“We note the cycle and pedestrian access from Cliffsend, but the fast dual carriageways which form much of the approach to the main entrance to the north of the station are not at all conducive to walking or cycling from other directions.”

The consultation ends on Sunday (19th). Read our comments here.

March 15th 2017.

 

Freight Action Plan consultation

CPRE Kent has responded to Kent County council’s consultation on its Freight Action Plan.

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HGV selection by Barry V

We expressed concern about the negative impact of HGVs, including:

  • the increased wear and tear on the county’s roads;
  • air pollution;
  • the number of serious traffic incidents;
  • the danger, noise, litter and nuisance of fly-parking;
  • damage to rural verges and hedgerows.

We also stressed again our opposition to a single gigantic lorry park as a solution to Operation Stack.

To read our full response click here.

March 14th 2017

 

 

 

Devastating impact of Heathrow expansion – our view

CPRE Kent has expressed its concern about the effect on tranquillity and the environment of airport expansion after the Government backed a third runway at Heathrow.
The countryside protection charity has campaigned against airport expansion at both Gatwick and Heathrow, in particular because of the serious impact on air quality and the devastating effect of aircraft noise.

photo: CPRE

photo: CPRE

“Aircraft noise brings misery to those living under the flight paths, including many people in west Kent,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport. “The importance of tranquillity cannot be overstated – it is the main reason why people enjoy the countryside, it can prevent stress and increases our enjoyment of exercise and play.”

Photo: Phil Weedon

Photo: Phil Weedon

CPRE Kent also fears the extraordinary pressure that will be placed on the environment and existing infrastructure around Heathrow. Thousands of additional employees and passengers will be drawn to an area of the country already struggling to cope with the demand for housing and transport. Continue reading

Lorry park consultation response

CPRE Kent has submitted its response to the lorry park consultation, reiterating our stance that a single, huge lorry park is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

Photo, kentonline

Photo, kentonline

Kent is an inevitable and unavoidable bottleneck in the flow of traffic between the UK and the rest of mainland Europe, and the rising volume of freight transiting this bottleneck is the most important issue that needs to be addressed. The disruption caused by Operation Stack in 2015 demonstrated the fragility of the logistics industry’s reliance on this concentrated route.

Operation stack 036  Operation stack 032

Instead of an expensive and damaging lorry park, we call for a solution which would offer real resilience to the nation’s trade and transport links and offer flexible alternatives to the logistics industry, both now and in the future. We believe that investment should instead be made into mandatory improvements in fleet management practices, so that no HGV driver benefits from racing to be nearest the front of a physical queue in Kent in the event of delays in the normal operations of the crossings.

This solution would also put an end to the anti-social ‘fly parking’ of HGVs which blights Kent’s roads, and it would remove the need for the implementation of ‘Dover TAP’ which holds HGVs back in the A20 approaching Dover. While this limits air pollution in the centre of Dover, it causes delays to other road users and merely shifts the air pollution to other areas, such as Aycliffe.

Hilary Newport commented: “We object in the strongest terms to the significant expenditure of public money on a built solution, in the marked absence of a transport strategy that does anything other than support and indeed encourage the steady growth of road based freight.”

In our response we also raise concerns about flooding, the impact on the landscape, heritage assets and the environment, loss of public rights of way and loss of agricultural land.

To read the full response click here.

There is still time to respond to the consultation – the deadline is 23rd september. See the link below for details:

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/managing-freight-vehicles-through-kent/

September 12th 2016


Lorry park should be “temporary”

We were dismayed last week at the Government’s decision to go ahead with a 3,600 space lorry park in Stanford – on an area of countryside the size of Disneyland.

Even the House of Commons Transport Select Committee had said the need had not been sufficiently proven and neither had it been demonstrated that this was the right solution. Chairman of the select committee Louise Ellman called the decision to go ahead “disappointing”.

 

Stanford site, photo Pete Maddox

Stanford site, photo Pete Maddox

There is no doubt that a solution to the misery of Operation Stack is needed, but we, like the Transport Select Committee members, believe the reflex response of a single large lorry park to corral all the HGVs delayed in crossing the channel is not the right solution. We maintain that a better solution would be the active management of the HGVs that are caught up in delays.

Photo by Hilary Newport

Photo by Hilary Newport

Fleet management logistics, electronic communications and vehicle trackers are already in use, and it would be a simple step to require the drivers of HGVs to abide by the instructions of fleet managers who could direct them to dispersed holding areas along their route, calling them forward at a rate which would guarantee their unimpeded passage across the channel. It would have the benefit of not concentrating slow-moving and stationary HGVs in a single location, and would support the delivery of commercial truck stop spaces to help ease the burden of illegal ‘fly parking’ of HGVs on Kent’s roadsides and lay-bys. It would also require a smaller outlay than the £250 Million earmarked for this project, which works out at £70,000 per parking space.

Photo, kentonline

Photo, kentonline

Governments, of course, have a duty to ensure that public money is spent effectively, and that investment will actually deliver the benefits it is supposed to. The proposals for this lorry park have been developed entirely in the absence of any exploration of less expensive and – importantly – less damaging alternatives. This is not a responsible use of public funds, nor a responsible thing to do to the people of Stanford.

If, as looks likely, the lorry park does go ahead regardless, we are calling on the Government to ensure it is classified as “temporary” – particularly as in planning terms it is being rushed through as an emergency measure.

Political situations and trends change – last year’s acute circumstances of strikes and blockades at Calais coupled with security infringements at the Channel Tunnel, could disappear if France changes its industrial relations and if there are changes in civil war situations and regimes in the rest of the world. We just do not know what the need or situation will be in ten or even five years’ time.

Up until last year it was usually only extreme weather that prompted the need for Operation Stack. We cannot predict future need which is why the lorry park must be treated as temporary. If it is proven years from now to be an empty white elephant that does not solve a problem, the countryside can be restored rather than developed further with housing or factories.

July 12th 2016

Dismay at lorry park decision

We are dismayed that the Government has today (July 6th) announced that the £250m lorry park the size of Disneyland will go ahead in the Kent countryside at Stanford. The Government is to start construction at the Stanford west site which will open next year.

photo, SOS Kent

We have argued that this is not the right solution and we need to look at the whole transport strategy, not least for the devastating effects of air pollution on the crowded and congested south east. This is a costly sticking plaster – £250m is almost the entire UK cycling budget.

It is galling that the Transport Select Committee listened to our arguments and agreed that the case had not yet been made to build this “gargantuan” concrete lorry park and other options should be considered, including a network of smaller lorry parks. Those committee findings seem to have been completely ignored.

Last week Hilary Newport set out her thoughts on the major transport problems facing Kent and called for pause for thought – what follows is her her blog. Continue reading

Strongly opposed to damaging new crossing

CPRE Kent has raised significant concerns about the proposed Lower Thames crossing including fears over air quality, transport, devastation of areas of countryside and the complete failure of strategic planning which means it won’t even solve the problem.

Responding the Highways England consultation, we have stressed that we are strongly opposed to option C (bored tunnels from Gravesend) but we would also oppose option A at Dartford because of the longer-term induced traffic growth, congestion and reduction in air quality.

Artist's impression of the bored tunnels

Artist’s impression of the bored tunnels

Director Hilary Newport said: “The planned crossing would damage important areas of countryside that are a vital ‘green lung’ to the urban population of the Medway towns, providing recreation and the opportunity for quiet enjoyment of the countryside which is so important for physical and psychological health.”

These areas include ancient woodland and Metropolitan Green Belt. There would also be an impact on the wider area, a loss of amenity in and around Shorne Country Park and the open landscapes to the north.

Post Opening Performance Evaluation (POPE) studies for new roads schemes have repeatedly shown that new road routes do not just relieve congestion, but create and attract new traffic.

There is already an over-reliance on the channel corridor and the channel crossings for the transport of goods to and from Europe. This should be an issue of national concern for the UK’s resilience and security. Not only is there the need to implement Operation Stack during periods of disruption, but even during normal operations, the Dover ‘Traffic Assessment Project’ (’Dover TAP’) is frequently used to hold back port-bound HGVs on the A20 to limit congestion and air pollution in Dover Town Centre. This of course simply displaces the same congestion and air quality concerns to other parts of the roads network. Continue reading

M20 Junction 10a

CPRE Kent’s Ashford Committee has submitted comments on the proposed new Junction 10a of the M20.

We are concerned about the effect the new junction would have on the wider road network, particularly the Romney Marsh road and the country lanes around Mersham.

Chairman of the Ashford Committee Hilary Moorby said: “It is imperative that the village of Mersham is protected from the village lanes becoming rat runs to the M20. It is also important that a buffer of open countryside between the village and the industrial site U19 (Stour park) is provided.”

M20 approaching Junction 10

M20 approaching Junction 10

Mersham Parish Council has requested that the link between Kingsford  Street and Highfield Lane be closed and we support this.

We also want to know the exact effect on public rights of way and need details of any permanent closure or realignment so that the needs of pedestrians, horses and cyclists can be assessed and provided for.

We are calling for safety measures on the Barrey Rd/A2070 Junction, including traffic lights, a strict enforcement of the proposed 40mph speed limit  and a lane restricted to hospital traffic only.

We also want more done to mitigate the damage to the existing environment and protect the important wildlife on the site.

You can read our full comments here.

March 21st 2016.